Wrestling Observer Flashback – 11.28.94
Well, one week left until the WWF really goes off a cliff. Until then, there’s the Clash!
– Dave was in Japan for DreamSlam (very short version: It was an amazing show) and missed the Clash of Champions from Jacksonville, but to say it wasn’t well received would be an understatement.
– This was the first test of the post-Flair era, and they drew a 3.6 rating, which is not a great number for having Hogan in the main event against supposed top heel Butcher Beefcake. However, the show was definitely not a bomb, at least. Was it worth the extra money it cost to have Hogan work it? Probably not.
– Here’s the rundown from minion Tim Whitehead of Clash XXIX, drawing 4000 to Jacksonville (all of whom had to be moved to one side of the building for TV):
1. Marcus Bagwell & The Patriot won the WCW tag titles from Pretty Wonderful in 9:20. Robert Parker challenged the winners to a match against Arn & Buck on WCW Saturday Night for the titles, although the match was actually taped the week before and they’ll just turn it into a title match with the magic of editing. Solid opener with good heat. **1/4
2. Johnny B. Badd beat Honky Tonk Man by DQ in 6:14. Bad, but no worse than you’d expect. ¼*
3. Harlem Heat beat the Nasty Boys in 10:55. The surprise manager, Sensuous Sherri, was spoiled by the graphics announcing her before the match. Decent brawl to start, but the Heat blew up. Sherri came out as the announcers had to act shocked, allowing Booker to use his phone for the pin on Sags. *
4. Vader pinned Dustin Rhodes in 11:46 in the best match of the show. Dustin took a lot of great bumps, but went after Harley Race late and Vader hit him with a facefirst powerbomb for the pin. ***1/2
5. Jim Duggan beat Steve Austin by DQ to retain the US title in 0:58. Austin supposedly blew out his knee on 11/14, but people are skeptical for various reasons. (Given that he wore knee braces for the rest of his career, I’m gonna give him a pass on that one.) DUD
6. Hulk Hogan & Sting & Dave Sullivan beat Butcher & Avalanche & Kevin Sullivan in 11:07. Mr. T was special ref and got in the way a lot. Evad got “injured” early and the faces were 2-on-3 for the rest of the match as a result. Hogan pinned Kevin with the megaphone and then the heels immediately popped up and started beating down Hogan, with Butcher using his dreaded sleeper hold while Tony screamed about how dangerous it was. A very muddled up match. *1/4
– The Philly wrestling war EXPLODED on 11/19, as ECW and Coraluzzo’s NWA faced off with shows in Philly and nearby Cherry Hill on the same night, and both were pretty successful. The NWA v. ECW war at the very least gives ECW fans another promotion to hate, as though they needed more.
– ECW managed to stuff 1100 people into a 850 seat arena because WCW sent Brian Pillman and Kevin Sullivan as a settlement for the “When Worlds Collide” lawsuit. Pillman and Shane Douglas lost to Ron Simmons & Scorpio in the main event. Afterwards, Sherri showed up with a Ric Flair t-shirt, so Shane called her a slut and gave her a piledriver. (And yet he’s STILL not in the WWE Hall of Fame!)
– Meanwhile, over in Jersey, they drew 625 people to see Chris Candido crowned as the prestigious new NWA World champion by beating Tracy Smothers in the finals of a tournament. (Literally don’t remember Candido as champion at all.) It was reported as a strong show, using mostly SMW talent. Dave does in fact note that having Tammy’s boyfriend as NWA champion is pretty much the nail in the coffin for the belt at this point. Especially since SMW isn’t likely to recognize him as champion, so you’ve got a guy holding the supposed World title who isn’t even recognized by his own promotion! And Jim Crockett isn’t going to recognize the title for his promotion, either.
– Quite the threat, I know.
– AAA did a tour of Japan this week and did about as well as the WWF did in their last tour. Which is to say, not very well. The biggest show was in Hiroshima and it drew 4000 fans to an 8000 seat arena. (Man, they really bo…failed financially. That’s what I meant.) Although the AAA guys are closer in work ethic to the Japanese wrestlers, so they got over better than WWF guys did.
– The Hiroshima show was taped for TV, with a mix of AAA and New Japan guys, and it was all over the place because the crowd understood some stuff and not others. Injuries hurt the show as well. Dave provides the rundown:
1. Tadao Yasuda beat Tatsuhito Takaiwa with a bearhug in 9:55. Dave thinks Taikawa has potential. (I always liked Takaiwa! He’s the current Black Tiger and he’s been all over the place.)
2. El Samurai & Satoshi Kojima beat Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata in 14:50. Dave thinks Nakanishi will be the biggest star of the bunch, although this Kojima kid looked really good here. ***1/4
3. Pegasus & Hiro Saito beat Akira Nogami & Takayuki Iizuka in 12:23. Pegasus was great and carried the entire match, but Iizuka lacks charisma. (The man with the IRON FINGERS? Lacking charisma?) ***
4. Mini Black Cat & Jerrito Estrada beat Octagoncito & Mascarita Sagrada in 14:37. They tried to work Japanese style, but then gave up and did lucha instead. Octagoncito lost his shoe at one point and it looked like a comedy spot but it was a shoot. **1/4
5. Black Cat & Black Tiger beat Psicosis & Mascara Sagrada in straight falls. Sagrada took a suplex badly and legit broke his collarbone at 3:00 in, and he screamed in pain and ran from the ring to get treatment and never returned. (If that was HHH he would have finished the match with his arm hanging off. Or so he would claim.) Psicosis tried to work Japan style but just has no experience with it. **1/2
6. Gran Hamada & El Mexicano & Perro Aguayo beat Konnan & La Parka & Blue Panther in a one fall match that was weird in that the Japanese crowd killed it, but it would have been ****+ in the US or Mexico. Konnan was working super-stiff for some reason. Hamada pinned Panther with a rana at 19:29. ***1/2
7. Norio Honaga won something billed as the UWA junior heavyweight title from El HIjo del Santo in 19:59. It was actually a totally different belt, and Honaga is already the IWGP junior champion anyway, so Dave is confused. Santo was doing all his flashy moves and the Japanese want stiff and believable moves, so it mostly didn’t work. And Santo injured his shoulder during the match and couldn’t move his arm for most of it. But of course, he did a giant dive to the floor anyway. ***1/4
8. Shinjiro Otani submitted Great Sasuke with an anklelock in 15:10. Sasuke was walking around on a broken foot, but of course had a great match anyway. ***3/4
– In a story that might have consequences for the wresting industry, the boxing promoters are playing chicken with the PPV providers over the upcoming Foreman/Tyson title match coming up in 1995. They’re threatening to withhold the match from PPV if they don’t get a 70/30 split instead of the usual 50/50, and will only run the show on closed circuit if they have to. Should boxing win this battle, wrestling PPVs will be much more profitable. (Vince tried that bluff many times and lost each showdown. Also, the fight never happened anyway, with Tyson’s comeback being against the far more dangerous Peter McNeeley. And yes, I’m being sarcastic. Although the fight did inspire the brilliant Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a boxer.)
– To All Japan, where Jungle Jim Steele teamed with Danny Spivey for a match against Steve Williams & Johnny Ace and DIDN’T LOOK TERRIBLE.
– Kensuke Sasaki is dropping the “Power Warrior” gimmick, by the way.
– Current rumor is that young boys Koji Kanemoto, Osamu Nishimura, and Hiroyoshi Yamamoto (Tenzan) will team up when they return from their overseas tours and be a sort of “Three Musketeers” in New Japan. (That would have been quite the six-man team!)
– Inoki is still telling the press that the fight with Forearm in April is a go. But he’s lying.
– Cactus Jack debuts for IWA on 1/2/95 with a death match against Terry Funk.
– Speaking of Funk, he main evented the 11/16 IWA Show at Korakuen Hall in a tag match with Araya against the Headhunters, where sake bottles were legal and the sides of the ring were covered in barbed wire boards. (And yet still wrestling 20-some years later.) In the undercard, Silver King & Texano worked a match with Super Astro & Takashi Okano that was so good fans actually threw money at them. (“Ow! Dammit, who threw the silver dollar at me?”)
– Funk is still offering $500,000 to have Onita show up in IWA and face him, but it’s not going to happen.
– RINGS ran a show on 11/19 with Maeda on top, but he’s literally the only thing drawing any interest for the promotion and they’re just about done.
– To Memphis, where fans got to pick the challenger for Sid Vicious on the 11/14 TV show. They chose Buddy Landel, and he got beaten. (I’m shocked his name wasn’t late for the ballot.)
– Jerry Lawler worked the Coraluzzo NWA tournament as a favor to Dennis, because he was the only promoter who continued to book Jerry while he was being indicted. (Dunno if that says he’s a good person or a slezebag.)
– Next ECW program is likely to be Shane Douglas v. Ron Simmons.
– Correction from last week: Ultimate Warrior did not in fact appear at a show in India and trigger a riot. In fact, it was the much-less-ultimate “Warrior” Chris Walker who was playing the part. It was, however, Bill Eadie as Demolition Ax.
– Jim Crockett’s TV tapings on 11/19 saw the crowd balloon from 350 to 450, although Iceman Parsons has already quit and no-showed the main event. They’re trying a new thing where they do old school 25:00 matches with clean finishes, but the problem is that they have no talent capable of doing that outside of maybe Tully. Kevin Von Erich debuted to absolutely no reaction.
– To WCW, where the traditional Thanksgiving show at the Omni was in fact cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
– Ricky Steamboat was officially fired by the company, since he’s injured and thus unable to return. Dave is very impressed with the compassion shown there. (Just wait until Steve Austin gets a call from them!)
– Hogan still hasn’t signed his new deal, and neither has Randy Savage.
– To the WWF, where rumors are RUNNING WILD about Ultimate Warrior returning. (Maybe it’ll be Chris Walker?) Dave notes that without steroids, he’s Brian Pillman without the talent. Also, “Kensuke Shinzaki” from Japan is coming in right away but Dave doesn’t know what the gimmick will be.
– Big shows after Survivor Series are headlined by Backlund v. Bret Hart on top and Diesel & Shawn v. Headshrinkers. (You’ll note we’re a week away and still absolutely no indication of where this was going.)
– And finally, Todd Pettingill was making snide remarks on TV about other groups trying to do PPV but not succeeding because they’re not the WWF. Dave thinks that going back-and-forth with the idiots in WCW is one thing, but there’s no upside for the WWF to giving exposure to smaller groups who might actually threaten them later on. (Come on, who thinks that this “Ultimate Fighting” thing is actually going to threaten Vince?)